Five key metrics to gauge application performance

By Jonathan Hassell

Metrics are the latest obsession of the IT industry. Part of it is the big data phenomenon, where we have so many sensors and instruments that it seems like a simple proposition to track application performance.

But as organizations with big data projects are beginning to discover, measuring anything is definitely not the same thing as measuring the right things. In the mobile app space, it appears that organizations are not yet tracking and analyzing the performance measures necessary to understand the impact and success of their mobile apps.

Common mistakes in this arena include:

  • Counting transaction use data, such as number of downloads. A Forrester Research survey of 200 decision-makers in charge of mobile initiatives at large enterprises found that 41 percent measured the number of completed transaction through an app, 34 percent measured the number of downloads and 34 percent measured the number of unique users. These are large percentages, given the fact that those data sets don’t actually lend insight into how “sticky” an app is, or how engaged the user is with the brand behind the app. Those measurements simply measure a user’s initial desire to put the app on the device.
  • Ignoring key metrics, such as length of time spent on the app and frequency of use. These are the measures of application performance that signify behaviors associated with loyalty, engagement and the”stickiness” factor that marks a really good app.

So what data will truly produce insights into measuring application performance? Start with the following five metrics:

  1. The amount of time spent within the app by a user, on average. Higher times indicate more engaged users, though this can be a double-edged sword if the average time is high due to poor performance.
  2. Number of daily active users. Measuring trends day-to-day will show use patterns that indicate the number of people engaging with your app at different times. If you have a low number of daily active users, it could mean that your app is very transactional — used only in very limited situations to get something done — or it might point to a low degree of user loyalty.
  3. Number of completed transactions through the mobile app. If completed transactions stay low for a long time, it may indicate your app does not offer the services your users expect, or does not offer opportunities for customers to utilize the app over the long term.
  4. The percentage of the business’ customer base that uses the app. This is a clear and uncomplicated metric of engagement.
  5. Average revenue per user, or ARPU. As in all areas of life, money walks: If users are spending money in your app, they are likely to be loyal and engaged.

Using this information, app developers can better target future app updates and iterations to their audience’s unique needs.

Written By

Jonathan Hassell

President, 82 Ventures

Jonathan Hassell runs 82 Ventures, a technical writing and consulting firm based in Charlotte, NC. He centers his focus around network administrator, security, the cloud, and mobile technologies.

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